Mirza Ghalib has been one of the greatest Shaayars (Urdu poets) of the world and he was always in a league of his own. His Shaayari cannot be compared to that of anyone else because of his down-to-earth personality (with no element of elitism anywhere) and the happy-go-lucky approach towards life which he termed as FAAKAMASTI in his Shaayarana lingo. Though he accepted the royal pension later in his life, he always remained carefree in his life and the economic hardships never took their toll on this legendary Shaayar. He never bothered about his future and enjoyed every moment of his life which witnessed the decay of the Mughal empire, the Gadar of 1857 and the establishment of the English rule in India during the 19th century A.D. Born in 1797 and died in 1869, Mirza Ghalib saw and felt the passage of an era in this nation. Perhaps the turbulence and upheavals of that period also affected his personality, his thoughts and ultimately his poetry. He was born in Agra and he breathed his last in Delhi.
Producer-director Sohrab Modi made a movie on the youth phase of his life. Great Urdu author- Saadat Hasan Manto wrote the story, another great Hindi writer – Rajinder Singh Bedi wrote the screenplay and J.K. Nanda wrote the Urdu-laden dialogues of this movie which not only contains the real life incidents of the great Shaayar but tells the story of his imaginary muse also, named as Moti Begum.The story of Mirza Ghalib (1954) is nothing but the love-affair of Mirza Ghalib (Bhaarat Bhushan) and Moti Begum (Suraiya). Mirza Ghalib (real name Asadullah Khan) is already married to Umrao Begum (Nigaar Sultana) but falls into love with a courtesan whose real name is Moti Begum or the pearl queen but she likes to be called as Chaudahvin Begum or the fourteenth queen. Amidst the hardships and the ups and downs in Ghalib’s life, their love story continues until Moti Begum feels that she is destroying Ghalib’s marital life and commits suicide.The way there is no mention of Anarkali in the history but the Salim-Anarkali saga is immortal for the lovers and the creators of fictional-work, the same way there is no mention of Moti Begum in the history or the biography of Mirza Asdullah Khan Ghalib but the authors have taken their liberty in creating her to make a touching love story. I don’t know whether it is true or not but the thing widely acknowledged is that every great male artist is bound to have relationship with some female who acts as his muse. The major part of the movie has been dedicated to the introduction, meetings and love of Mirza Ghalib and Moti Begum. The rest has been dedicated to Mirza’s family life, his hardships due to poverty, his popularity through Shaayari and the helplessness of the Mughal emperor in doing anything worthwhile due to the increasing might of the British. Sohrab Modi has superbly directed the story drafted for him by the great Hindi litterateurs.The scene of the visit of the Hindu money-lender (Mukri) to Mirza’s home is very impressive in which Lala or the money-lender asks for his due money and Mirza offers to give his Shaayari to him just like paper-waste but Mirza’s wife stops him and offers Lala to take her golden bangles against the money due to him but then the kind-hearted and sensitive Lala himself refuses to take her bangles and leaves Mirza’s residence saying to Mirza that he is not in a hurry for his money and if Mirza requires further money, he can approach him. Despite being an imaginary incident, It underscores the communal harmony in our country as well as the human-bonds between people in that period.The arrest of Mirza by the police officer of that area (Ulhas) and the judge’s himself giving Mirza’s bail money (because he is also Mirza’s admirer) is another impressive scene. Murad has played the role of the judge. The helplessness of the Mughal emperor (Iftekhar) has also been shown emphatically when he says to Moti Begum (who approaches him for Mirza’s release) that he cannot do anything to ensure Mirza’s release from jail because his order is not applicable on the other side of the Yamuna where the order of the British resident holds good.Finally, the movie scores because of the immortal Ghazals and Nazms of the legendary Shaayar sung by Suraiya and Talat Mahmood and composed by Ghulam Mohammed. The music of this movie is nothing short of a precious jewel, a great combination of Urdu poetry and touching melodies. Aah Ko Chaahiye Ek Umr Asar Hone Tak, Yeh Na Thi Hamaari Kismat Ki Visaal-e-Yaar Hota, Nuktacheen Hai Gham-e-Dil, Dil-e-Naadan Tujhe Hua Kya Hai, Ishq Mujhko Nahin Vehashat Hi Sahi etc. are the musical gems to be preserved forever. The male voice songs are a part of Talat Mahmood’s all time great songs (solos and duets). One song – Hai Bas Ke Har Ek Unke Ishaare Mein has been sung by Mohammed Rafi.Suraiya was as beautiful as well as a proficient actress as a great singer she was. In all the three forms of art, she was unmatchable. She has infused life into the role of the sacrificing Moti Begum and in a way, overshadowed the hero. Her performance both as a singer as well as an actress for the Ghazal – Aah Ko Chaahiye Ek Umr Asar Hone Tak is unforgettable. Again in the climax, she has mesmerized the viewers-cum-listeners on the immortal Ghazal – Yeh Na Thi Hamaari Kismat Ki Visaal-e-Yaar Hota. Bhaarat Bhushan was always effective in performing the sensitive and golden-hearted characters of artists and he has done well in the title role. Nigaar Sultana as Mirza’s wife has marvelled like anything. The complete supporting cast has done justice to the respective roles.
Technically, the movie is highly admirable. It’s a period movie and hence special care was required in its making. The filmmaker has left no stone unturned to be perfect in this aspect. The art director – Rusi K. Banker had won the Filmfare award for the best art direction for this movie. He has virtually brought the Delhi of the nineteenth century on the screen. Cinematography of this black and white movie is equally effective. The production value is quite in line with the prestige of the banner of Sohrab Modi – Minerwa Movietone.
Despite containing an imaginary story not supported by the history, Mirza Ghalib is a classic movie and a very big treat for the lovers of golden oldies.
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